Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 21 No. 1 May 2006

More about the Blencowes and Everards

Some time ago Jill Dudbridge gave me a book Kings Lynn by Paul Richards from which most of what follows is drawn. The book included a number of references to the Everard family and a mention of the Blencowe connection.

Kings Lynn is an important market town situated where the river Ouse drains into the Wash. In former days it was, after London, the most important east coast port, with links to the ports of the Hanseatic League in Scandinavia and Germany. The handsome picture on the cover page of the Customs House, (not shown here) indicates something of the grandeur of those days. There were imports of timber and flax - important naval supplies for masts, spars, sails and rigging. When trade to the east was hampered by war shippers turned their attention to timber, sugar and rum from the Americas; there were also substantial imports of wine, especially from Portugal. One of the Vancouver family was Collector of Customs and the father of George who sailed with Captain Cook and subsequently surveyed the west coast of North America.

Trade was largely in the hands of half-a-dozen merchant families of whom the Everards were one of the more important. In 1743, along with the families Allen and Bagge, they had something of a monopoly on brewing in the town. In 1757 Edward Everard bought the Hanseatic Warehouse from its German owners and in 1785 another Everard together with a fellow named Browne had deals in stock from the Baltic worth more than £ 10,000.

In 1794 there were fears of invasion by Revolutionary France and £6,000 was collected to support some 500 infantry and cavalry commanded by another Edward Everard.

In 1796 a Blencowe connection was made: Henry Prescott Blencowe married Rebecca the daughter of ‘Edward Everard Snr’. Three years later his younger brother John married Rebecca's youngest sister Pleasance. Henry became head of the Thoby Priory branch of the family; it was he who sold Blencow Hall to the Duke of Norfolk in 1802. It was John who involved himself in the Everard family business. Richards says: "Daily business affairs were increasingly directed by able and trusted lieutenants ... J[ohn] P [rescott] Blencowe, who lived opposite St Mary's Church, was 'the leading light' of the merchant house of Everard."

Much of the prosperity of Kings Lynn was owed to its access by water to inland towns such as Bedford and Cambridge (it was cheaper to send goods from Cambridge to London via Lynn than more directly by road). The arrival of a railway connection in 1847 removed this advantage and, although Lynn remains an important centre for agriculture-based industry, and still has coastal trade with the Baltic, its heyday passed.

Although John Prescott Blencowe and Pleasance had eleven children their offspring do not seem to have been inclined to marriage. John Prescott (1800-?), Pleasance (1802-1837), Elizabeth (1803-1885), Mary (1805-1900), Edward (1806-1895), Henrietta (1809-1890), Walter (1812-1885), Agnes (1818-1896), Margaret (1819-1898) and Ellen (1820-1893) were all unmarried. Jane, who married Rev Stephen Allen in 1847 (a widower with a grown-up daughter), died before 1851. Edward became a parson; when he died he was Vicar of Stow Bardolph, living in the Vicarage with four servants. Walter lived in Nelson Street in Kings Lynn; Margaret, Ellen and Henrietta lived there with him, conjuring up the image of Timothy in Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga living cossetted by his unmarried and widowed sisters.

Richards writes that, as the importance of Lynn declined as a trading port, the merchant families became more interested in their landed properties. The Everards moved to Congham near Sandringham. All this doesn't take us closer to identifying the James Everard of Lowestoft who married Elizabeth Blencowe in 1794. Hopefully, if Brian Everard keeps searching, he will find more of the story.

Jack Blencowe

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Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 21 No. 1 May 2006
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updated: 15 August 2006